Matt Ryan is joining "The NFL Today," while Phil Simms (as well as Boomer Esiason) is leaving. Matt Ryan is joining “The NFL Today,” while Phil Simms (as well as Boomer Esiason) is leaving. (Ryan graphic from CBS, Simms photo from Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports.)

There are big changes ahead for CBS’ NFL studio show, The NFL Today. Long-time analysts Boomer Esiason and Phil Simms are both exiting, and Matt Ryan is moving from game analyst work to the studio. Fellow analysts Bill Cowher and Nate Burleson will remain, as will host James Brown, and analyst JJ Watt (who will continue to work a part-time schedule). CBS announced those changes Monday:

Both Esiason (who is signing an extension with Audacy to continue on WFAN) and Simms announced their own exits on their platforms as well.

Simms got some nice praise for his NFL Today work (which he began in 2017 after Tony Romo replaced him on the lead game announcing team) from NFL on CBS insider Jonathan Jones:

And others chimed in with tributes to him:

Changes were previously discussed as a possibility at The NFL Today this offseason following Andrew Marchand’s report that all of Esiason, Simms, Cowher, and Brown had their contracts expiring after CBS’ coverage of Super Bowl LVIII. The idea of a studio show overhaul also made some further sense with long-time CBS Sports chair Sean McManus retiring and David Berson (previously the CBS Sports president) taking over. (There’s also uncertainty about the future of CBS and Paramount Global, but that doesn’t appear particularly involved with this.) But it’s notable to see two prominent and long-time figures in Simms and Esiason, who had 26- and 22-year runs with CBS respectively, exiting the company.

It’s also significant to see Ryan moving from the game booth to the studio. Ryan joined CBS ahead of this past season, working in a three-man booth alongside Andrew Catalon and Tiki Barber, and drew praise for his work there. He also was mentioned in several reports about a potential return to playing, but downplayed those and stayed with the network.

This is a notable rise in profile for Ryan. That announcing team was CBS’ fourth-listed (behind Jim Nantz and Tony Romo, Ian Eagle and Charles Davis, and Kevin Harlan and Trent Green), and he’s now moving to a top studio show. Ryan did get some studio work in last season on CBS Sports Network’s NFL Monday QB and That Other Pregame Show, as well as on CBS Sports HQ and in some contributions to The NFL Today, but this is a big bump for him. We’ll see how he does with that, and we’ll see if CBS replaces him alongside Catalon and Barber or goes to a two-man booth there.

[Paramount Press Express]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.